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In a Tailspin

The Anaheim Ducks returned from the All-Star break and continued their surprising tailspin.

As the Ducks await the return of Teemu Selanne, they try to avoid losing a fifth consecutive game for the first time in over two years Friday night when they visit the St. Louis Blues.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Anaheim –129 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on St. Louis +119 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

The Ducks have been outscored 15-5 during the current skid, and they hope Selanne, their top scorer last season with 48 goals and 94 points, is able to play Friday after he shunned retirement and rejoined them Monday. The right wing did not dress for Wednesday's 5-1 loss at Minnesota and his status against the Blues (23-19-7) is uncertain.

"It never hurts to get good players," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.

The Ducks (27-21-6) are on a season high-tying four-game losing streak after the disappointing loss on Wednesday, which opened an eight-game, 15-day road trip - the longest continuous trip in franchise history. They lost 3-1 at Los Angeles on Jan. 24 before entering the All-Star break.

The slide, which followed a season-high six-game winning streak, has dropped Anaheim into a tie with Calgary for sixth in the Western Conference. The defending Stanley Cup champion Ducks last dropped five games in a row during an eight-game slide from Nov. 3-20, 2005.

"We've got to start getting dirty, start getting in high traffic areas, playing our physical style of game and playing our skating game," Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We're a skating team that has to support one another, and when we don't we've got a lot of holes."

Carlyle, though, has been faced with poor play from Jean-Sebastien Giguere during the losing streak. The goaltender has started all of those games, posting a 4.21 goals-against average. He has failed to complete two periods in each of the last two contests, giving up six goals on 29 shots.

Giguere was beaten three times in less than two minutes of the second period against the Wild, which prompted Carlyle to pull him again. He responded by slamming his stick against the post and throwing his blocker into the bench.

"The goals weren't easy to save, but I'm getting paid to make those saves," Giguere said. "I probably would have done the same thing. I'm not mad at Randy, I'm mad at the situation. I'm mad because we've lost four in a row. It starts by me. I've got to do a better job and make sure I give my team a chance to win."

Giguere is 6-1-0 with a 2.93 GAA and a shutout in his last seven games against St. Louis. However, the lone loss came in the last meeting on Oct. 23 when he allowed three goals on 32 shots in a 4-2 defeat.

If Carlyle opts to sit Giguere, he could use backup Jonas Hiller, who allowed two goals on 12 shots Wednesday. The rookie has won his last two starts with a 1.50 GAA, including a 25-save performance in the Ducks' last win on Jan. 18 - a 4-2 victory at Minnesota.

The Blues, who are 12th in the conference, are hoping to build on a 3-2 win at Toronto on Tuesday, which ended a seven-game losing streak.

Keith Tkachuk spurred the victory by scoring on St. Louis' first two shots, equaling his total from the season-high skid. The center has three goals and four assists in his last three games against Anaheim, including a goal and two assists on Oct. 23.

Brad Boyes, the Blues' leader with 29 goals, scored twice in that contest. The right wing has eight goals in the last nine games overall.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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